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  1. #1
    Humanoid Lobster
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    Q: Shop mechanics - are you requested to supply your own tools?

    Here's a question for the shop mechanics here. How many of you are asked to supply your own tools?

    I'm not asking who brings tools in that they prefer, or how many opt to do so. Rather, does your shop ask you to bring your own tools in. Have you ever heard of this practice? How common is it?

    I have never heard of this, and have a bit of shop experience. I have been told that it is more common than I know.

    I'm just trying to get information to continue a conversation that I am having "offline". No, I will not name names. I'd just like to be a little bit more informed.
    Don't call it a gooseneck.

  2. #2
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    Coming from a non biking mechanic background I would say it's necessarily a requirement to bring your own.. but if you plan on making it your trade you will prob have a set of your own.

    I have thousands of dollars of specialized tools for diesels and I purchased them all. I am very leery of loaning out any of my stuff.

    A lot of shops have subpar tools. Tools are like kids.. you become partial to your stuff. I wouldn't go out and spend thousands on tools.. but it's not a bad idea to build up a nice set overtime.

  3. #3
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    Re: Q: Shop mechanics - are you requested to supply your own tools?

    Usually depends on type of job and pay structure. If you're doing piece work and have your own tools, then you're really an independent contractor, not an employee, so the pay should be higher, but you'd pay your own taxes and insurance too.

    If you're truly just an employee it would be nice to have the basics, but I've personally never been required. However, as stated above, most shops don't have the best tools....because they tend to disappear...so its nice to have your own.

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  4. #4
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    Weird answers so far? Automotive tech's with Snap On and MAC stuff are a very bit different from bicycle techs. "Independent piece work"? Taxes?
    OP..... I work at two bike shops. One giant chain. The other a very small independent. While I have my own tools for my own stuff, both places I work have a full complement of quality Park Tools. I'm not required to bring any specialty or basic tools to either place.

  5. #5
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    I've worked at 4 shops and at all of them the shop owned the majority of the tools. It's common for head mechanics to have their own toolbox usually full of expensive, specialized tools. Some guys keep them under lock and key.

  6. #6
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    I worked at a shop that supplied each guy with a set of basic hand tools, a toolbox, and a padlock. All of the specialty tools were hung up and shared by all. Each guy was responsible for replacing lost or broken tools from their toolbox. I spent the first 5 minutes of my day setting up my bench, and the last 5 putting everything away.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocop View Post
    Weird answers so far? Automotive tech's with Snap On and MAC stuff are a very bit different from bicycle techs. "Independent piece work"? Taxes?
    OP..... I work at two bike shops. One giant chain. The other a very small independent. While I have my own tools for my own stuff, both places I work have a full complement of quality Park Tools. I'm not required to bring any specialty or basic tools to either place.
    Do you think Park Tools are that great? I think the quality of them are rather sub standard. Especially for the price.

    I could get snap on tools for less. My T handle hex set was like $50 off the truck.. i think Park's set is like $90..

    ohhh.. and lifetime warranty.. you give the truck the tool.. they hand you a new one..

    I wouldn't think many guys would need to have a roller box of bike tools.. but if I was gonna get into it I would get a nice Hex wrench set, a few spanners, and a nice punch set and hammer.

    I know ppl will dispute the punch set but you learn for to use them properly they can be your most valuable tools.. and they save your screwdrives from new ppl

  8. #8
    Humanoid Lobster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley View Post
    It's common for head mechanics to have their own toolbox usually full of expensive, specialized tools. Some guys keep them under lock and key.
    Thanks guys!

    Yes, I've been the guy with the locked toolbox full of expensive, specialized tools. I chose to buy them, bring them in, and lock them up.

    I'm asking more about a "bring your own cable cutters and combo wrenches." situation

    I have my own tool set, but well ... just don't want to bring them in. They're for my use at home. I don't feel that level of commitment to this particular part-time job. I was told that in another east coast city "all the mechanics bring their own tools in", which piqued my curiosity. I thought that perhaps I am laboring under a misconception.

    I know car mechanics often have a full kit. They also usually earn a GOOD bit more than us bike guys if I am not mistaken.
    Don't call it a gooseneck.

  9. #9
    Humanoid Lobster
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    I completely agree with your assessment of Park tools price and quality JKidd. Not bad quality, but not really impressive either. Any tool that Park makes that is not a specialized bike tool (such as wrenches) is better purchased elsewhere for either less money or higher quality.
    Don't call it a gooseneck.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley View Post
    I've worked at 4 shops and at all of them the shop owned the majority of the tools. It's common for head mechanics to have their own toolbox usually full of expensive, specialized tools. Some guys keep them under lock and key.

    That is similar to my experience. The first shop I worked at had all the specialty tools but required all mechanics to supply their own basic hand tools. I worked in 5 other shops that supplied all tools.

  11. #11
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    It is the investment of the shop to provide the tools. When you pay $8-$12 an hour you can't expect the employees to bring thier own tools in.

    It is part of the overhead of the shop.
    I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
    The carbon is way more durable than most people.

  12. #12
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    i supply my own tools. work has a yearly tool allowance to account for wear and new tools that we need. the tool allowance is not 50 or 100 bucks either. it is enough to buy new tools that we need and have extra left over. you will use all of it your first year or 2 but later years you pocket most of it. bigger stuff, special, and uncommon tools are supplied by the shop like work stands, headset press, vise, bb taps.

  13. #13
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    Having worked in four shops myself, I would say 100% that it is the shop's responsibility to supply everything required to do the job, from rags and an apron, to headset presses and fancy tools.

    The exceptions would be if the mechanic is some sort of independent contractor, or if for some reason the mechanic elects to use some of his own tools.

    Even in other industries, like machine shops and aerospace manufacturing, where having personal toolboxes was standard practice, the new system is usually communal tool kits at each workstation. Well marked or defined tool locations, whether on a tool-wall or in toolbox drawers, is key. It needs to be obvious when a tool is missing.

  14. #14
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    I don't think bike shop mechanics get paid nearly enough to afford buying and maintaining their own tools. torque wrenches, bottom bracket taping/facing tools, headset and bearing presses, etc are really expensive.

    I once tried to get a job assembling bikes for a chain sporting goods store. the first, and last, conversation on the phone went like this:

    "do you have reliable transportation to work?"
    "yes, I do."
    "do you have your own tools?"
    "yes, I believe I have all the tools I need."
    "do you have an air compressor?"
    "no, but I have a nice floor pump and that should suffice."
    "no, not for inflating tires, for the impact wrench."
    "excuse me? impact wrench?"
    "yes, we use and impact wrench to tighten all the bolts and nuts on the bikes."
    "ha ha! thank you, nevermind."
    *click*

  15. #15
    Plays with tools
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej View Post
    It is the investment of the shop to provide the tools. When you pay $8-$12 an hour you can't expect the employees to bring thier own tools in.

    It is part of the overhead of the shop.
    This pretty much sums it up. I make bike tools, and deal with a lot of shops. My sample size is probably 70% of the domestic industry and I'll say it's pretty rare to require an employee to bring their own tools. When this does happen, the pay reflects it though. Often times these shops pay on a piece rate, like auto shops do. Personally, I'd much rather buy my own tools than be subjected to work with some of the crap shop owners think is worthy of professional use.

    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I don't think bike shop mechanics get paid nearly enough to afford buying and maintaining their own tools. torque wrenches, bottom bracket taping/facing tools, headset and bearing presses, etc are really expensive.

    I once tried to get a job assembling bikes for a chain sporting goods store. the first, and last, conversation on the phone went like this:

    "do you have reliable transportation to work?"
    "yes, I do."
    "do you have your own tools?"
    "yes, I believe I have all the tools I need."
    "do you have an air compressor?"
    "no, but I have a nice floor pump and that should suffice."
    "no, not for inflating tires, for the impact wrench."
    "excuse me? impact wrench?"
    "yes, we use and impact wrench to tighten all the bolts and nuts on the bikes."
    "ha ha! thank you, nevermind."
    *click*
    Don't fear the impact, when used appropriately they are very useful tools.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I don't think bike shop mechanics get paid nearly enough to afford buying and maintaining their own tools. torque wrenches, bottom bracket taping/facing tools, headset and bearing presses, etc are really expensive.

    I once tried to get a job assembling bikes for a chain sporting goods store. the first, and last, conversation on the phone went like this:

    "do you have reliable transportation to work?"
    "yes, I do."
    "do you have your own tools?"
    "yes, I believe I have all the tools I need."
    "do you have an air compressor?"
    "no, but I have a nice floor pump and that should suffice."
    "no, not for inflating tires, for the impact wrench."
    "excuse me? impact wrench?"
    "yes, we use and impact wrench to tighten all the bolts and nuts on the bikes."
    "ha ha! thank you, nevermind."
    *click*
    you should be using a battery powered one anyways. the tool companies make ones with a suitable torque/power range for bikes. with practice you can control the power well. my impact is a milwaukee m12 brushless

  17. #17
    Plays with tools
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    Quote Originally Posted by reptilezs View Post
    you should be using a battery powered one anyways. the tool companies make ones with a suitable torque/power range for bikes. with practice you can control the power well. my impact is a milwaukee m12 brushless
    I've got one of those as well, great little tool. FWIW, they make pneumatic impacts in 1/4 drive that would be appropriate as well. I'd rather be cordless though.

  18. #18
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    My shop supplies all the tools, but I have been asked by new hires if they should bring their own. I'd rather know they are using quality tools, although I could do without having them occasionally disappear.

  19. #19
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    Q: Shop mechanics - are you requested to supply your own tools?

    I haven't worked in shops for years but the ones I did work in supplied the tools unless you wanted to have something special. The only two thinks I use that were my own were Felco cutters and a Campy crank puller. Still have both.

  20. #20
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    Having worked in shops for the past 7 years I have seen both approaches. I personally like the shop to own the majority of the tools, but I do bring in my own favorites. A top level torque wrench, a nice ratchet, bits, Felco cable cutters, a set of files, and my favorite snips get me by in most shops, though I do push to get a Pedros chain tool asap when I get to a new shop.
    "Don't take life too serious. You'll never get out alive."

  21. #21
    Of the Nameless Rabble
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jak0zilla View Post
    Here's a question for the shop mechanics here. How many of you are asked to supply your own tools?

    I'm not asking who brings tools in that they prefer, or how many opt to do so. Rather, does your shop ask you to bring your own tools in. Have you ever heard of this practice? How common is it?

    I have never heard of this, and have a bit of shop experience. I have been told that it is more common than I know.

    I'm just trying to get information to continue a conversation that I am having "offline". No, I will not name names. I'd just like to be a little bit more informed.
    Any shop that would require you to supply your own tool is a shop that is in a death spiral—that is, unless, they are giving you an extremely generous tool allowance each month. Avoid such a place like the plague.
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  22. #22
    Plays with tools
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutter Jim View Post
    Any shop that would require you to supply your own tool is a shop that is in a death spiral—that is, unless, they are giving you an extremely generous tool allowance each month. Avoid such a place like the plague.
    Of the handful of places I've come across that did require personal tools all of them paid accordingly and were stable business. Not to say that a hard up shop owner wouldn't ask a mechanic to bring their own tools for that reason, but I don't think it's a red flag at all.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    I don't think it's a red flag at all.
    As a shop owner, I have to respectfully disagree with you there.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutter Jim View Post
    Any shop that would require you to supply your own tool is a shop that is in a death spiral—that is, unless, they are giving you an extremely generous tool allowance each month. Avoid such a place like the plague.
    I worked at a shop once that required all mechanics to supply their own basic tool kit, expensive specialty tools were supplied by the shop. I think the owner required that more as a token of commitment from new employees rather than trying to save a buck on his part. That was over 30 years ago and the shop is still there.

  25. #25
    Plays with tools
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutter Jim View Post
    As a shop owner, I have to respectfully disagree with you there.
    Why?

    Some people choose to run there business a different way than you or I have chosen. I could see a shop owner having the opinion that a mechanic is more likely keep their work space clean if they supplied the basic tools. If I ran a shop that had a high turnover and was constantly having to replace tools that my mechanics tore up I would think long and hard about requiring them to bring their own tools. Different strokes for different owners I suppose. Personally I'd much rather supply my own tools as long as the pay was appropriate. I also don't like working on high end bikes that commonly use soft hardware with cut rate tools that are the norm when the shop owner buys them.

    It's also worth noting that if you're going to do event work as a team mechanic or demo driver you bring your own tools. I've never heard an exception to that where sponsorship isn't involved.

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